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Newt’s Single Standard

July 24, 2010

Color me as confused by Newt Gingrich’s argument against the Ground Zero Mosque as everyone else.  I’m less interested in the intentions of those who are planning to build it — apparently their motives are not as pure as most of us would like to think — than I am by the idea to build it in a vacuum as well as its counterfactual.  But Newt’s argument is just, well, un-American, as much as I hate to use that term.  We shouldn’t build a mosque here because there are no churches in Saudi Arabia?  Should we not, as Yglesias asks, build any Catholic churches here because there are no synagogues in The Vatican?  Should we keep Saudi immigrants from pursuing the path to citizenship (and thus voting) because women still don’t have suffrage in Saudi Arabia?  Should we keep Chinese people from practicing journalism here just because Americans can’t practice free journalism in China?

The obvious answer is no, because we don’t abide by the same standards that theocracies such as Saudi Arabia and dictatorships such as China do.  We’re a democracy — the very reason we were founded was that we didn’t want to play by somebody else’s rules when we determined that their rules, frankly, sucked.  We’re supposed to be better than that.  And it’s really weird to argue that the United States should adopt somebody else’s rules when those rules are clearly undemocratic and appalling.

I’m going to gloss over the how-close-can-the-Mosque-be-to-Ground-Zero argument because I don’t understand just exactly where the GZM is supposed to go, but I maintain that I think there should be some sort of memorial at actual Ground Zero.  Newt always seemed more electable, reasonable, and knowledgeable about policy than most other Republicans in the field for the next Presidential campaign.  I don’t know whether he really believes this or if he’s just trying to ride the anti-GZM tide currently present on the Right, but this is a really bad argument.  Better luck to him next time.

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